Saturday, 21 April 2012

Ret-con-ation Street

Firstly, praise where praise is due. The general tone of last night's episodes, and indeed the others during this week, seems to have been right. The hanging of Betty's picture in the Rovers, the dimming of the lights and the sound of her voice barking out orders and having a laugh was emotional and well thought out.

However the show fell foul of the dreaded ret-con this week. Retroactive continuity is something usually avoided in Weatherfield. It's uses elsewhere have often left viewers feeling uncomfortable or let down. Famously, hoary old eighties oil drama "Dallas" did it in spectacular style, trashing an entire series and all the events therein. This was feebly explained by suggesting that leading character Pam Ewing had dreamt the lot! Viewers were not impressed and so began the show's long goodbye.

Cult drama "Prisoner Cell Block H" made a similar mess back in the 1980s too. Having lost numerous leading stars in a short space of time, the writers had relatively new characters reminiscing about people they had never met. It was a clunky, poorly thought out construct.

So then to Weatherfield and the hard-to-believe nonsense which should be termed Anniegate. By choosing to rewrite history, viewers have been left with storylines which now seem bizarre. These have, in some way, diminished Betty's character. Would she really have stood aside and see Bet Lynch fail so badly in 1995, knowing that the pub was actually hers? Are we to believe, thanks to a truly horrific piece of writing that Betty, to quote a response to an earlier blog, was a "mad old kleptomaniac" who stole pint pots whenever she got the chance. Plus, as many have pointed out, there was the awkward shoe-horning in of both Stella and Dennis, two characters who viewers never saw interact with Betty. We just have to believe that they did but somehow it all feels wrong.

In fairness though, the writers had to deal with Betty Driver's illness and sudden disappearance from the show, as well as leaving a respectful gap between her death and that of her character. At least she was at the forefront of the show for one last story and that final scene in the darkened Rovers was a fiting farewell to a much-loved woman.

13 comments:

Adam Rekitt said...

Excellent summary. Overall it was a great week with some fantastic writing, but spoiled by the show's addiction to sensation and over egging the pudding.

Humpty Dumpty said...

How does one communicate opinions officially? If there was a way to express dis/satisfaction with storylines direct to tptb, I'd be on to it straightaway. I couldn't see it on the itv website. Anyone know? Many thanks.

BarrieT said...

humpty dumpty...try emailing itv at viewerservices@itv.com this will be forwarded to the corrie production office

Tvor said...

Excellent post! The Retcon was the only real sticking point for me because of the legalities of it all. Had Annie Walker actually owned the pub, willed it to Betty and had it declined would have made sense but Annie Walker never owned the put and that's where it all falls down.

Humpty Dumpty said...

Barrie T - many thanks!

Anonymous said...

ITV have had a considerable time to write a decent farewell for Betty Driver. All the could come up with was yet another storyline involving the odious St.Ella. WTF

Im just surprised that the equally useless Kym Marsh didnt have a leading role in it as well. Oh yes I forgot, she wasnt in New york for Christmas

Anonymous said...

If they're saying Annie Walker owned the pub. I can't even believe that. She looked down upon the place, she longed for a country pub or hotel. She wasn't a fan of the grotty backstreet boozer.

The truth is Annie was only ever a tenant. She didn't own the pub. And if she did somehow find the money to buy the pub why would she keep it a secret?

To buy into this you also have to ignore that Billy Walker was left in charge after Annie left until the brewery threw him out.

MrsBarton said...

I am not going to panic. We've had difficult patches before with bad producers and it's passed. The producer moves on eventually and we can be optimistic that a real Corrie fan will take over next, and return the comedy and warmth to our show. Working class humour, optimism in the face of difficulty, love and lust, drama. All in balance ...... and the loss of some really poor characters, please please please

Simon Cowell said...

Another glaring error was that Dreary said BETTY was the ghastly Tracyloove's godmother, she wasnt it was Emily.

Llifon said...

Simon Cowell, Betty was indeed Tracy's godmother with Emily, and I'm glad that was mentioned because it's always been the Emily/Tracy relationship that's been mentioned over the years. There's a photo of Betty with Tracy in the Coronation Street 30th Anniversary book.

Llifon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

When was Annie suppossed to have died as she didnt die in 1984. Wills only come into play when someone actually dies. Doris speed didnt die until 1995 but I am not sure if it was ever mentioned as to when the character died. If it had been so soon after her leaving the street surely other characters would have heard. Did she not want a profit from her business until she passed away. It is just all so silly.

Anonymous said...

Coronation Street changed the age of the Barlow twins in the 1970s - 1978, to fit in with a storyy-line about Peter wanting to join the Navy. The situation was rectified in the 1980s when Peter and Susan celebrated their joint 21st birthday in 1986.

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